BERLIN, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The inland river shipping industry in Germany is struggling with low water levels, with the country hit by persistently high temperatures and a lack of rainfall.
"The water levels and discharges of the German federal waterways remain at a low level," Parliamentary State Secretary with the Ministry for Digital and Transport Oliver Luksic told Xinhua on Monday.
"Despite some forecasted rain, the signs point to a further intensification of the low water this week," warned Luksic. Optimizing operations on the river Rhine, Europe's busiest inland waterway, is particularly important to the ministry.
According to the federal association of German inland navigation (BDB), around 80 percent of inland waterway freight traffic takes place on the international route which connects the country's western seaports with Switzerland.
Currently, ships have to carry less cargo in order to prevent grounding. "To compensate for this, more shipping capacity is put into service to carry out transport orders," a BDB spokesperson told Xinhua.
However, the low water levels will not lead to full closure, as can be the case with high water. "Inland waterway transports are carried out as long as it is physically and safely possible," the BDB spokesperson said.
Germany is currently being hit by a heatwave with record temperatures. "The prolonged drought has been quite hard on the plants this summer. Already in mid-June there was a large water deficit," the country's meteorological service (DWD) said on Monday on Twitter. ■